Why Is School Readiness Important?
If your child is old enough to start kindergarten soon, you may wonder “Is he/she ready for school?”
Kindergarten marks the start of a child’s formal education. A child’s first school experience can significantly influence the way they learn and how they relate to others for the rest of their life.
Success or failure during this important phase can significantly affect their self-esteem, motivation and well-being.
8 universities jointly analyzed studies involving more than 35,000 preschoolers and found that children who scored higher in school readiness were more likely to have higher academic performance later1.
Although these studies do not prove cause-and-effect, they do show high correlations.
That’s why it is wise to recognize the factors contributing to a child’s school readiness and make sure that when your child begins kindergarten, he or she is ready to learn and to participate in classroom activities.
All Early Experiences Matter
For better or worse, all of a child’s early experiences, whether at home, in preschool, or in other child care settings, are educational.
The settings in which young children grow and develop, and the interactions and experiences they encounter in these highly formative years, set the stage for later learning.
When early experiences are positive, consistent, developmentally sound, and emotionally supportive, they have positive effects on children’s development and on their readiness to learn.
What Contributes To School Readiness
In a joint research by 8 universities worldwide, 6 studies including more than 35,000 children were analyzed.
In these studies, children’s academic skills, attention and socioemotional behaviors were measured at school entry (around age 5 or 6) and later academic achievement was measured between the ages of 7 and 14. It was found that the strongest predictors of later academic achievement are school-entry math, reading, and attention skills4,5.
Moreover, rudimentary mathematics skills appeared to matter the most, then reading skills and finally attention.
These two factors are stronger predictors of later performance than math and reading previously found.
So there you are… To help your child become school ready and perform well academically upon entering kindergarten, you can start with strengthening these skills — general knowledge of the world, fine motor, math, reading/vocabulary and attention.
There are several other elements that can help your child become school ready and thrive in kindergarten and later in life — language, social-emotional competence8,9, creativity and gross motor development10.
How to Attain School Readiness
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggest parents do the “5 Rs” of early education to support healthy brain development and to proactively build the critical social-emotional-language skills. The 5 Rs are:
- Read (reading skills) together everyday.
- Rhyme (reading skills), play (all skills) and cuddle everyday.
- Routines (attention) developed for meals, sleep, activities, etc.
- Reward with praise to build self-esteem and encourage positive behavior.
- Relationship nurtured as a strong foundation for your child’s development.
Parents can incorporate these practices into their daily lives.
They can also come up with activities that strengthen each skill that contribute to school readiness and later success.
In the coming weeks, I will focus on the skills mentioned above and list some of my favorite activities that can help our kids learn those skills.
These are by no means comprehensive lists of things parents can do. But it is a good start, at least for us.
Hope you and your kids will enjoy and benefit from them, too. Check back often as I will keep updating.
School Readiness and Later Achievement. http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/dev-4361428.pdf ↩
Changed Lives: The Effects of the Perry Preschool Program on Youths through Age 19. Monographs of the High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, Number Eight. By Berrueta-Clement, John R.; And Others. http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED313128.pdf ↩
School Readiness and Later Achievement. By Greg J. Duncan, PhD, Amy Claessens, PhD, Mimi Engel, Northwestern University; Chantelle J. Dowsett, PhD, and Aletha C. Huston, PhD, University of Texas-Austin; Katherine Magnuson, PhD, University of Wisconsin-Madison; Pamela Klebanov, PhD, Princeton University, Linda S. Pagani, PhD, Universite de Montreal; Leon Feinstein, PhD, and Kathryn Duckworth, University of London; Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, PhD, Columbia University; Holly Sexton, University of Michigan; Crista Japel, Universite de Quebec a Montreal. http://www.apa.org/pubs/journals/releases/dev-4361428.pdf ↩
Children’s Early Academic and Attention Skills Best Predict Later School Success, According to Analysis of Large-Scale Studies. By Dr. Greg J. Duncan. http://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2007/11/school-readiness.aspx ↩
The role of early fine and gross motor development on later motor and cognitive ability. By Jan P. Piek, Lisa Dawson, Leigh M. Smith, Natalie Gasson http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167945707000991 ↩
Promoting Children’s Social-Emotional Skills in Preschool Can Enhance Academic and Behavioral Functioning in Kindergarten: Findings from Head Start REDI. By Nix RL, Bierman KL, Domitrovich CE, Gill S. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24311939 ↩
The role of early fine and gross motor development on later motor and cognitive ability. By Jan P. Piek, , Lisa Dawson, Leigh M. Smith, Natalie Gasson http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0167945707000991 ↩